June 11, 2013

Favorite Summer Grill Recipes

Here is a selection of my favorite grilled recipes from past posts. Enjoy!

Pork -

Grilled Pork Chops with Tomatillo, Corn & Avocado Salsa (recipe 1)
Marinated Pork Chops
Savory Grilled Pork Chops

Chicken -

Grilled Asian Chicken with Ginger Rice (recipe 3)
Grilled Basil Chicken Sandwich
Greek Grilled Chicken Pitas
Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad
Greek Grilled Chicken Salads (a different recipe from 2nd one!)

Vegetarian -

Grilled Veggie & Mozzarella on Ciabatta (recipe 3)
Black Bean Burgers
Summer Veggie Kabobs
Grilled Eggplant, Pesto & Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich
Grilled Veggies with Feta on Ciabatta
Grilled Zucchini, Fresh Mozzarella & Tomato Sandwich
Grilled Zucchini & Squash with Corn & Tomatoes (side dish)
Grilled Summer Veggie Pizza
Grilled Veggie Quesadillas
Grilled Eggplant Sandwich

Seafood -

Grilled Cajun Shrimp & Scallops

Beef -

Marinated Steaks with Pepper Rub

While we're thinking of summer, don't forget about the Zucchini Recipes! post for ideas on how to use this plentiful summer veggie.

June 8, 2013

Week 64, Recipe 1: Simple Beef Enchiladas

  • Recipe modified from The Food Network - The Pioneer Woman
  • Double this and freeze a pan for later!


  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 28-oz can enchilada or Mexican red sauce
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper (or more, to taste)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 10-14 corn tortillas
  • Two 4-oz cans diced green chilies
  • 1 c. chopped green onions
  • 3 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Cilantro, for garnish


For the sauce:
1. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the canola oil and flour. Whisk and let simmer 1 minute.
2. Pour in the red sauce, chicken broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat and simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.

For the meat:
1. Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Drain the fat, add the salt and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and set aside.

For the rest:
1. In a small skillet over medium heat, heat a layer of canola oil. Lightly fry the tortillas just until soft. Do not crisp. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with all tortillas. Do not skip this step. It really makes a difference!
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
3. Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9- by 13-inch baking dish.
4. Dipping the tortillas one at a time into the pan with the rest of the sauce, coating both sides and set the sauce-soaked tortillas in a pile on a plate.
5. Working your way down the pile of tortillas one at a time, place on some of the meat mixture, chilies, & green onions. Top with a generous portion of cheddar. Roll up the tortilla to contain the filling inside.
6. Place the tortilla seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas and pour the remaining sauce over the top. End with a generous sprinkling of cheese and any other bits of chiles, green onions you have left over from the filling.
7. Bake the enchiladas for 20 minutes, or until bubbly. Sprinkle chopped cilantro over the top and serve with rice, chopped lettuce and tomato, sour cream, avocado slices, etc.

Week 64, Recipe 2: Spicy Kale Lasagna

  • Recipe modified from Annie's Eats
  • I recently said on Facebook that I'd never made anything with kale that I would make again in a hurry. But this lasagna recipe is a keeper. I like that it's meat free but you could add some cooked sausage in with the kale layer if desired.
  • Make the night before and leave in fridge until ready to bake. Or make and freeze, then put it in your oven frozen and set your timer before you leave. Make 2 pans while you're at it so you have one for later!
  • My kids ate this, kale and all, with no complaints and enjoyed it! It's not too spicy for kids. In fact, I increased the red pepper to 1 1/2 tsp to give the sauce a little more flavor.
  • I'm not sure this would be as good with store-bought sauce. It doesn't take much to make this sauce and it's really good! Make it ahead of time if you want for a quicker prep later.
  • 1 lb kale, spines removed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes, (preferably with basil or herbs
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • Chopped fresh basil (a small handful will do), optional
  • 2 tsp salt, divided
  • 4 c. cottage cheese (ricotta would also work well or you could use a mixture of both)
  • ¾ c. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • ¾ tsp. pepper, or more to taste
  • 16 noodles cooked al-dente and rinsed with cool water
1.To prepare the kale, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the kale to the pot and boil for 2 minutes then drain and rinse with cold water until cool enough to handle. Give the kale a spin in the salad spinner (if you do not have a spinner, wrap the kale inside a clean kitchen towel and wring out as much excess liquid as possible)
2. Chop the kale, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
3. To make the tomato sauce, combine the oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning and 1 teaspoon of salt in a cold saucepan. Heat over medium-high, stirring frequently. Let cook for 30 seconds once bubbling then mix in the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce, reduce heat and let simmer 15-20 minutes. Add more salt and pepper to taste and fresh basil, if using.
4. To make the cheese mixture, strain all of the liquid out of the cottage cheese (use a fine mesh strainer and stir cottage cheese in strainer to let the liquid run out). Mix in ½ cup of the Parmesan, 1½ cups of the mozzarella, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper.
5. Preheat the oven to 375. To assemble the lasagna, spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and add a thin layer of the sauce to the bottom. Cover with a layer of noodles, then half of the cheese mixture, half of the kale, and half of the remaining sauce. Add another layer of noodles, the remaining cheese mixture, and the remaining kale. Top with the remaining noodles, then the remaining sauce.  Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup mozzarella cheese and ¼ cup Parmesan.
6. Bake for 45 minutes, until bubbly and browned.  Let stand at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving to let extra liquid absorb.

Week 64, Recipe 3: Creamy Chicken Pot Pie


  • Love this creamy chicken comfort food. I doubled the recipe and froze the filling in a quart-sized bag. Had every intention of making pot pie again but used it the following with my creamy chicken and biscuit recipe. Both are so good!
  • Recipe modified from Pillsbury's Classic Chicken Pot Pie

  • 2 pie crusts, frozen (and thawed for 10 minutes or so before putting top on), refrigerated or homemade
  • 1/3 c. butter
  • 1/3 c. chopped onion
  • 1/4 c. chopped celery
  • 1/3 c. all-p flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp celery seed
  • 1 3/4 c. chicken broth
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 2 1/2 c. shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 c. frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat and add onion and celery. Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Stir in flour, celery seed, salt and pepper until well blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk, cooking and stirring until bubbly and thickened. Add more salt and pepper to taste.         
3. Stir in chicken and mixed vegetables. Remove from heat. Spoon chicken mixture into bottom pie crust. Top with second crust; seal edges with fingertips. Cut slits in several places in top crust.
4. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. During last 15 to 20 minutes of baking, cover crust edge with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Week 64, Recipe 4: Taco Salad with Seasoned Ranch Dressing

  • A quick, easy meal! I love this seasoned Ranch dressing I found on the neartonothing blog. It really makes the salad.
  • No need to buy taco seasoning. Make your own and store in an airtight container: 1 tbsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper).
  • Lettuce (crisp kind is best)
  • 1 lb ground beef, seasoned with taco seasoning
  • Chopped tomatoes, green peppers, red or green onions, black olives, etc.
  • Shredded cheese
  • Avocado or guacamole
  • Beans - black or kidney, drained & rinsed
  • Tortilla chips, to crush in salad
  • Dressing (mix all ingredients to combine and refrigerate until ready to use; make ahead of time if possible to flavors have time to combine) -
    • ½ c. sour cream
    • ¼ c. ranch dressing
    • 2 tbsp taco seasoning
    • Dash of hot sauce, to taste (optional)
  1. Assemble the dressing (see above) and salads and serve dressing over the top. Enjoy!

Week 64, Recipe 5: Chicken & Black Bean Enchilada Bake

Didn't get my own pic of this one. Photo is from picky-palate.com, same place the recipe came from!
  • A great casserole that's also freezer friendly. Double it and freeze a pan!
  • I used brown rice and it turned out great but I think white would be better. We left out black olives for our family's tastes but if using, add 1 15-oz can.
  • 2 cups white long grain rice
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast
  • 15-oz can mild green enchilada sauce
  • 15-oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles or plain, if preferred
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Cook rice according to package directions.
3. In a large bowl, combine chicken, enchilada sauce, olives (if using - see NOTES), tomatoes, sour cream, salt, pepper and cumin into a large bowl, mixing to combine.
4. To assemble, pour cooked rice into prepared baking dish and layer beans on top of rice. Pour chicken mixture over rice and top evenly with cheddar cheese. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until cheese is melted and rice is hot.

June 3, 2013

Cheesecake with Fresh Strawberry Topping

  • The cake recipe is modified from Taste of Home. I labeled this recipe "gluten-free" because I actually made it g-free for a friend of mine who was coming for dinner. I simply used g-free grahams instead of regular and it turned out great! Regular grahams would also be just as good if you don't need it g-free. :)
  • You need to make the strawberry topping ahead of time (at least 2-3 hours before serving) so it has a chance to cool completely in the fridge. It does not taste good warm but tastes delicious once cooled and lasts for several days so use it on your waffles if you have extra!
  • The cake is GREAT for entertaining because it can be made ahead of time. It needs at least 24 hours to chill in the fridge so make it the day/night before you need it.


  • 3/4 cup ground pecans
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 c. (16 oz) sour cream
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
STRAWBERRY TOPPING (modified from The Shiksa):
  • 2 c. chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch

1. Combine pecans, crumbs and butter. Press onto the bottom of a 10-in. springform pan. Set aside. 
2. For filling, beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add eggs, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Beat well. Spoon over crust. 
3. Bake at 350° for about 50 minutes or until filling is almost set. Let stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, for sour cream topping, combine the sour cream, sugar and vanilla. Spread over cheesecake and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate 24 hours. 
4. Just before serving, loosen and remove sides of springform pan and serve with the strawberry topping (see instructions below) on the side.

DIRECTIONS - Strawberry topping

1. Put chopped strawberries and sugar into a small saucepan. Add 1/3 cup water and stir. Heat mixture over medium high heat until it boils. Stir, then reduce heat to medium.
2. Mix cornstarch with 2 tbsp of water until a thick liquid forms. Pour the liquid into the pan, stirring continuously, and continue to stir until well blended.
3. Cook the strawberry mixture over medium for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until it becomes thick and syrupy. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Leave as is or puree if you want a smoother topping. Chill in fridge until ready to use (chill at least a few hours).

Buttermilk Waffles (or Pancakes) with fresh Strawberries & Cream

  • This is my go-to recipe for waffles and pancakes. Its my grandmother's recipe.
  • I often substitute half of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat pastry flour. Regular whole wheat will also work fine but I have found they are lighter if you use the whole wheat pastry flour.
  • Add a touch a cinnamon if desired.
  • The recipe below will make approximately 4-6 regular sized waffles so double as necessary.
  • 2 c. flour (see NOTES above)
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c. buttermilk
  • 4 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Fresh, sliced strawberries or other topping as desired
Sweet Cream topping:
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat waffle iron and combine all dry ingredients for waffles/pancakes in a large bowl and whisk.
2. In another medium-sized bowl, combine wet ingredients.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir with a wood spoon or spatula until just mixed and no dry flour remains.
4. For topping, whip cold heavy whipping cream with the whisk attachment on your stand mixer until starting to become stiff. Add sugar and vanilla and continue to whisk until hard peaks form (when you lift whisk attachment up out of the cream, a peak of the whipped cream forms and stays).
5. Serve warm waffles with a large dollop of cream and sliced strawberries

Strawberry Dream Cake

  • I looked and looked for a strawberry cake that didn't use strawberry Jell-O for flavoring. This one did the trick and was delicious!
  • Since strawberries are in season, freeze your own fresh ones by hulling them with a hard straw (something similar to the hard straws used in those reusable cold beverage containers like Starbucks) then washing the strawberries. Pat them dry then arrange in a baking dish top side down and freeze until frozen through, about 2 hours. If freezing more than what you need for the cake, store the frozen strawberries in a ziplock bag until ready to use for smoothies, shakes, etc.

  • 10 oz frozen whole strawberries (about 2 c.)
  • 3/4 c. whole milk, room temp
  • 6 large egg whites, room temp
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 c. cake flour
  • 1 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened
Frosting -
  • 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 c. confectioner's sugar
  • 12 oz cr. cheese, cut into 12 pieces and softened
  • pinch salt
  • 8 oz fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced thin
1. For the cake: adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 350. Grease two 9-in round cake pans with butter or shortening (use a LOT) and then flour them really well. You want to be sure the cakes won't stick.
2. Transfer frozen strawberries to a bowl, cover, and microwave until they are soft and have released their juice, about 3 minutes. Place in a fine-mesh strainer set over a small saucepan and firmly press fruit until you have at least 3/4 c. juice. Reserve the strawberry solids for the frosting.
3. Bring the strawberry juice to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6-8 minutes. Cool a few minutes then whisk in milk until combined.
4. Whisk strawberry milk with egg whites and vanilla in a bowl. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and low speed until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until one pea-sized pieces remain, about 1 minutes. Add half of milk mixture, increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low, and remaining milk mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Give batter a final stir by hand.
5. Scrape equal amounts of batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean, 20-25 minutes (do NOT overbake), rotating pans halfway through baking. Cook in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes before removing cakes  (loosen any stuck edges and gently turn pans upside down) from pans and cooling completely, about 2 hours.
6. For frosting, use the stand mixer and mix butter and sugar on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, one piece at a time and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add reserved strawberry solids and salt and mix until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 2 days.
7. To assemble cake (do this right before serving or up to 2 days ahead of time and refrigerate but bring to room temp before serving): pat sliced strawberries dry with paper towels. When cakes are cooled, spread 3/4 c. frosting over 1 cake round. Press 1 c. strawberries in an even layer over frosting and cover with additional 3/4 c. frosting. Top with second cake round and spread remaining frosting evenly over the top and sides of cake. Garnish with remaining strawberries and serve.